If it’s January it must be London.
The annual January gaming exhibition at London’s Earls Court is once again officially known as ICE. Originally the “International Casino Exhibition,” two years ago the organizers changed the event name to “International Gaming Expo,” in a nod to the expanding presence of online gaming and betting businesses on the expo floor. However, “ICE” proved to be too strong a brand, and so it is back, bigger and better than ever.
The trade show of “ICE Totally Gaming,” as the full title has it, will run from Tuesday, January 25 through Thursday, January 27. But this year an expanded conference program has been added to the show, building on the success of similar efforts in recent years. The conference program begins the day before the trade show opens.
The ICE show floor will feature around 400 exhibitors from seven gaming sectors: casino, online gaming, mobile gaming, street (AWP) machines, sports betting, bingo and lottery. Exhibitors are generally grouped accordingly, but with some companies’ products being deployed across multiple sectors, visitors are advised to consult the directories and maps provided. Last year saw more than 18,600 attendees, from more than 100 nations.
“No other gaming show in the world can come anywhere near the geographical spread of exhibitors present at ICE or the diversity of the gaming experience that’s on offer,” says Kate Chambers, ICE show director. “We’ve got the biggest names in gaming, the best innovators in gaming and the smartest names in gaming. Quite simply, all the evidence demonstrates there is no other place in the world that gaming operators can or indeed should be come January.”
In the casino supplier hall, visitors will find Austria’s Novomatic Group occupying its usual massive space and seemingly providing lunch for the entire show population from the huge Novomatic café. Over in the online gaming section, the ICE Bar will once again be packed from open till close. And in the sports betting aisles, the Racing Post Café will be offering drinks and, presumably, the occasional next sure-thing.
The conference program starts on Monday, January 24 with the third International Casino Conference, organized in partnership with the European Casino Association. The ICC will feature a range of discussions, including casino and E.U. debates, innovation and technology, and the relationship between land-based and online gaming. Speakers include ECA Chairman Ron Goudsmit, who is secretary of the executive board of Holland Casino; and Paul Herzfeld, CEO of Casinos Austria International.
On Tuesday, Combating Cybercrime will deliver cutting-edge solutions for keeping businesses and customers safe. Now in its seventh year, it will again be chaired by Jim Noakes, head of transactional services at Gala Coral and chairman of Gamshield. Key speakers include Oliver Eckel, head of corporate security at bwin Interactive Entertainment AG; and Angelika Koller, fraud team leader at Sportingbet. Also on Tuesday is Mobile Gaming, sponsored by Spin3. Speakers include Scott Seaborn, head of mobile at Ogilvy; and Mark Maydon, commercial director at Sportingindex.
Wednesday’s program features Payments for Gaming, covering the latest innovations and technology for monetizing players. Key speakers are Christina Thakor-Rankin, Virgin Games’ operations director; and Jim Oakes, acting head of financial crime risk (Europe) at Standard Chartered Bank via Financial Crime Risk Ltd. Also on Wednesday is Monetizing Social Games, using examples from King.com and Playfish.
Thursday opens with CRM and Retention, a discussion on utilizing customer data and player analysis, and concludes with Mergers & Acquisitions. M&A will examine the future of consolidation in the gaming sector and the macro-economic landscape of the industry. The program features over a dozen major CEOs and company directors including Nicolas Beraud, CEO of Betclic Everest Group (formerly Mangas Gaming); and Ian Penrose, CEO of Sportech.
Symbolizing the shift in dynamic business activity from land-based casinos to the online gaming sector, the week’s biggest party will again be Fire & ICE. Billed as “iGaming’s biggest annual party” at the website of modern lifestyle guru Calvin Ayres, the Wednesday night blowout will see GTech G2 as one of the main sponsors for the third year running.
“We’re very proud to be associated with the most popular party on the industry calendar,” said William Scott, V.P. commercial at GTECH G2. “It’s an excellent opportunity for us to socialize with our business partners and for us to give something back to our industry.”
Fire & ICE was started 10 years ago as the only ICE-week event intended especially for the fledgling online gaming industry. Feeling unwelcome at the land-based parties, Lyceum Media partners Michael Caselli and Jodie Thind decided to host their own event just for their friends in i-gaming.
“Things have changed a lot since our first Fire & ICE party, that’s for sure,” says Caselli. “The industry has grown beyond all expectations. I think we had about 60 or 70 people at that first Fire & ICE and last year we had nearly 2,000.”
Guests must pre-register to attend for Fire & ICE. For information on sponsorship opportunities or to book a VIP table just contact Jodie Thind at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for complete information on ICE 2011, go to www.icetotallygaming.com.